Reports are surfacing that working holiday makers are being put into comprising situations where they are coerced into performing sexual acts to get their second year visa days signed off according to Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (ADCQ) says.
There are two types of Working Holiday Visas in Australia, the 417 Working Holiday Visa and the 462 Work and Holiday Visa. The vast majority of working holiday makers that work on farms / rural areas do so to obtain the second year visa.
• UK, Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France
• Germany, HSKAR, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea
• Taiwan, Malta, Netherlands, Norway & Sweden
Second Year Visa
On working holiday makers with a 417 visa can apply for the second year visa. Even though you will find some 462 visa holders completing fruit picking work it’s more for the cultural experience as opposed to obtaining the second year visa.
How it Works
If you complete 88 days of “specified work” in an “approved area, on the postcode list”, amongst you are eligible for a 2nd Year Visa Extension. There’s a few other conditions but this is the major factor that forces working holiday makers to go to rural areas to find jobs.
As work is in a remote location often there’s no phone reception, internet and contact with the outside world it’s very hard for workers to reach out to people if they are being abused or mistreated.
Please remember it’s the vast minority that make a bad name for the majority.
Kevin Cocks, the QLD Commissioner, stated that the remote areas and communal living situations often put young women in extremely vulnerable situations, which is where the predatory behaviour manifests.
“We’ve had a number of direct or indirect issues raised with us by the community members, police and other government agencies.
“At least a dozen over the past 18 months, and that’s just in the area that we’ve worked in [the Lockyer Valley in south-east Queensland].
“What’s been indirectly reported to us is more serious criminal sexual exploitation.”
Katri Uibu wrote that “Being subjected sexual harassment on a daily basis was even more degrading than watching farm employers pocket thousands of dollars at the expense of foreign labour”
Accoring to a recent ABC interview a Queensland Police spokesman confirmed some farmers were abusing their right to sign off visa applications by harassing backpackers.
“Often people want [police] assistance in escaping a bad situation, but it is not unusual for no complaint to be made once backpackers are out of the situation.”
This is a very dire situation and doesn’t represent Australia as the country we are. These rogue employers are giving us a bad name and damaging the working holiday job experience.
Depart of Immigration
Via Pedestrian TV the Immigration Department stated:
“While the department has no regulatory ability to exclude Australian employers from employing working holiday visa holders or verify their employment, the department does maintain information on employers of known integrity concern and screens and scrutinises working holiday visa applications accordingly.”
After these allegations surfaced the National Farmers Federation announced they were developing a Best Practice Scheme for Agricultural Employment. The Australian Government has also, bringing in reforms including mandatory pay stubs for all workers employed under the working holiday visa, which speaks to the lack of regulation in place at the time.
Have you been the victim of unfair treatment? Please share your story with our community and of course the appropriate authority. The more people that are aware of the conditions the more that will speak out especially if you’ve both been the victim of the same employer. Whether it’s sexual harassment, bullying, being under paid, backpacker scam people should be treated as they wish to be treated and paid according to the appropriate award.
Never let the good employers go unnoticed so if you’ve had a very positive experience please share your story as well. It’s not always doom and gloom but people
Do you know anyone affected?
Please share this with them and urge them to contact to appropriate authority.